Jordan signed a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with China on Monday, as part of its efforts to develop its nuclear energy capabilities. Under the protocol, China will help Jordan mine and enrich uranium, as well as assist in training and studies to build a nuclear station, head of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, Khalid Tuqan, said, according to news reports. A preliminary cooperation deal was signed between the two countries in August. Jordan imports nearly all of its energy needs but is said to have large reserves of uranium, which is one of the base products of a nuclear reactor. A nuclear plant is planned to supply nearly a third of the country's energy requirements by 2030. Amman has signed other nuclear cooperation deals with the United States, France, South Korea, Russia and the United Kingdom. Jordan is one of several Arab states in the Gulf and the Maghreb that have announced plans to set up civilian nuclear programs. Observers are concerned that the cause for this drive for nuclear power is Shi'ite Iran, which is under international pressure to abandon its nuclear program for fear that nuclear technology is being used to manufacture atomic bombs. Iran is refusing to comply with international demands and insists the program is for the peaceful purposes of creating nuclear energy. This is a source of concern for the surrounding Gulf states, which are unhappy about the prospect of a nuclear Iran in their neighborhood, and are worried about the safety of the facilities. Dr. Emily Landau, senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies, said the pursuit of nuclear programs in the Arab world is a global and regional concern. She sees a direct correlation between this trend and Iran's nuclear ambitions. "They say they want civilian programs for energy purposes and there is logic to that, but I think it's clearly linked to Iran's nuclear program," Landau told The Media Line. "If Iran becomes a nuclear state, this is an additional dimension to the gravity of the situation. It's not only the fact that Iran will become a much stronger hegemony in the region, but we're very likely to see pressure for more nuclear weapons programs in the Middle East." Meanwhile, Syria is also feeling the ground for a nuclear program of its own. Washington is rebuking Muhammad Al-Barade'i, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over plans to provide Syria with technical assistance in setting up a civilian nuclear project. The US State Department says such assistance is inappropriate while the IAEA is investigating allegations of secret Syrian nuclear activities. The IAEA is probing a site in northern Syria that was bombed, allegedly by Israeli warplanes, in September 2007. An IAEA check of the area found traces of uranium and said the bombed building resembled a nuclear facility. Nevertheless, the UN is mulling a $350,000 assistance package to Syria for a civilian nuclear program. Syria denies it is engaged in secret nuclear activities.